In 2015, electric car sales in China, cumulative, crossed 100,000. At that time, the country had one public charger for every four electric cars. As India crosses the milestone of cumulative 100,000 electric cars sold this year, the country has one public charger for every 13 electric cars.
Europe has a public charger for every three electric cars and the United States for every six, shows International Energy Agency data.
Talking absolute numbers, according to the Bureau of Energy Efficiency, India’s central nodal agency for public charging infrastructure, the country has 8,738 operational public charging stations as of July 2023. In 2015, China had 59,000.
The relatively sparse charging infrastructure in India could impede widespread adoption of electric cars and hinder the progress towards sustainability goals, say experts. A World Bank analysis found that investing in the charging infrastructure is four to seven times more effective in EV adoption than providing upfront purchase subsidies.
“In India, an electric car is usually the second car in a household and is used for intracity purposes. At present, the charging infrastructure is enough for the existing automobiles. But, if the penetration increases and the car is used for intercity travels, the charging infrastructure will need a strong push,” said Himanshu Singh, research analyst, Prabhudas Lilladher.
The lack of charging stations poses a significant challenge for EV owners, leading to range anxiety and limiting their mobility options. Unlike traditional internal combustion engine vehicles, which can be refuelled at the ubiquitous petrol stations, EVs require a well-distributed and easily accessible network of charging stations to ensure uninterrupted travel.
According to Niti Aayog’s EV charging infrastructure implementation guidelines, the government plans to install one slow charger for every three electric four-wheelers and one fast charger for 10.
“Building a big charging infrastructure is the next phase, when localisation starts, which is likely from 2025,” said Puneet Gupta, director, S&P Global.
China and the US, the global leaders in EV adoption, have promoted EV charging stations by setting targets and giving incentives. China’s EV charging policy has addressed it at both the national and provincial levels, mandating standards and providing funding through national policy instruments.
The US offered a 30 per cent tax credit for the cost of installing an EV charging station till 2017 and also provided loan guarantees.
India government has outlined plans to address this issue.
The government has proposed charging stations at 22,000 petrol pumps across the country. The [which] ministry has sanctioned 2,877 EV charging stations in 68 cities across 25 states and Union Territories.
Initiatives such as the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) and Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles (FAME II) aim to encourage the development of the charging infrastructure throughout the country. A total of Rs 1,000 was earmarked for charging infrastructure under FAME-II. As part of the the scheme, the Centre sanctioned Rs 800 crore in March to three public sector oil-marketing companies for setting up 7,432 public fast-charging stations across the country.